December Bartender of the Month: Kevin Diedrich
Name: Kevin Diedrich
Title & Establishment: Bar Manager, The Burritt Room, San Francisco
Recent Gigs: He gets around, but he hits all the right places, including Ritz Carlton Washington, D.C.; Ritz Carlton, Bourbon & Branch, Clock Bar, CASK and Beverage Academy in San Francisco; Bourbon Steak DC; PDT and Clover Club in NYC; and now, The Burritt Room back in San Francisco.
His Muses: “My peers and guests. I'm constantly learning from my peers from East to West; observing how they bartend and interact pushes me to excel as well. I'm always learning from my guests on the bar top — they truly are my muses; I learn so much from listening and finding out what they enjoy.”
What’s in the Shaker: “I've been working on combining what I've learned on my travels from East to West (two times now!). I learned a lot on technique and flavors from both coasts and I'm working on making a hybrid style of my own. I try to make sure we're not using more than four ingredients in a drink — simple but with a lot of flavor. I've been working on a lot of aperitif/sherry cocktails recently, and also on making a great cocktail that tastes great and won't get you wrecked.”
What He’s Sipping: “I've been on a huge Rum Old Fashioned kick. I can honestly drink them all night...maybe out of a pint glass.” His recipe:
1 bar spoon Demerara Syrup (made with Demerara sugar, I do 2:1 ratio)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes The Bitter Truth's Orange Bitters
1 dash Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters
2 ounces aged rum (he favors Ron Zacapa)
Stir and strain into a chilled rocks glass with one ice cube. If you have big ice cubes, just one cube; if not, a couple smaller ones. Garnish with a lemon and orange twist
What He’s Dancing to While Mixing: “I'll be honest here, I'm a huge trance/progressive house fan. I like to work to it — while setting up and closing down. My start as a bartender was in nightclubs, my best friend was a DJ and I met my wife while working together in a nightclub. I enjoy other music styles, but trance/progressive has a little spot in my heart. As for favorite DJs, I gotta go with my hometown DC flavor, Deep Dish, and then international DJ Armin Van Buren.”
Quirks & Quotable: “I think my biggest pet peeve right now is the bartenders and servers that have forgotten the customer. We've been lucky in the last couple years to have revived cocktails and artisanal spirits, but some bartenders have lost the grasp on the customer. It's not only about having a well-made cocktail, but it's about being a bar, having fun and conducting your crowd...oh, and making a few dollars while you’re at it. I think some industry pros get caught up with the glitz and glamour and forget what we're here for.
“Other than that, I love what I do, love the controlled chaos of the bar and I will be standing behind that bar 'til I can't physically shake anymore, and when that happens I'll hire someone to shake for me.”